T&G launches new tomato
Tomatoes were among the horticultural riches to return to Europe from the exploration of South America more than 400 years ago.
Since then the fruit has become a popular part of our diet and a common component in the culinary world, now offering more than 10,000 varieties.
T&G Global is New Zealand's largest grower and supplier of fresh tomatoes with 28.5ha of glasshouse space, mostly in the South Auckland area, producing around 6 million kgs annually in a range of varieties including Red Delight, Yelo, and the high-producing Merlice. Late last year T&G Global introduced the Kumato. The Kumato is a low-acidity, high-sugar fruit with a firm skin and comes in colours ranging from reddish-purple to near black.
Propagation of Kumatoes, at T&G's Harrisville site, began in November with produce from the fast-growing plant ready for picking in six weeks. A vine can grow to 600mm in height and 15m in length, produce 30 to 35 trusses and can be picked three times a week.
At the moment production is around one tonne a week but could go to four tonnes a week depending on demand.
Grower manager Jason Greene said the facility had grown the popular Levanzo and Speedella varieties for 10 years.
“Kumato has only recently come in production, it is a (Swiss biotechnology company) Syngenta variety grown for its traits. Seeds are about $8 each - they own the rights to make it and we have a licence to grow it.
“Our market research has shown that people are willing to pay more for taste. It's about listening to the customers. We have a new variety specialist whose job it is to find what hits the mark and we are always looking for something different. We found ourselves with two options - we can grow tomatoes like big red water balloons, but flavour is the key if we're going to get repeat purchases.''
Kumatos have been initially offered to the public through Pak 'n Save and New World supermarkets in 400 gm Chef's Selection packs which include Red Delight, Yelo, Angel, Bambello and Kumato. They are expected to be offered in their own packs from February.